Lars Löfdahl, 43, from Örbro, Sweden, dreamt of flying a Gripen ever since he was a child. So when Saab announced a competition earlier this year with the prize of a flight in Gripen, Lars could not miss it. He gave it a shot and amidst 2000 entries, he was declared the winner.
Lars getting dressed in flight gear
Pilot André showing Lars the flight route
Lars getting into Gripen
Lars taking off for the first time in a Gripen
Pilot André and Lars after the flight
13 August 2015 was his day. He flew to Linköping and after a short introduction to Saab, he had a routine medical examination. This was followed by a briefing from test pilot, André Brännström on what he could expect. "The conditions today are perfect" the seasoned test pilot remarked.
The competition was designed with the objective of giving people a new, correct representation of Saab. People think of cars when they think of Saab. Though, that side of the business was sold in the mid 1990's, people still associate Saab with cars.
"A plan was put into place to explore how we could give those people a new impression of Saab. As part of this we wanted to start a conversation with the public on safety and security, and what it means to them" remarked Gustaf Ekelund, Vice President and Head of Brand. A competition was thought of and the prize had to be something that could demonstrate Saab's technology in action: A ...
Finding information is not enough. Sharing it at the right time, with the right people and using it effectively is very crucial. Hence, every Gripen unit is designed to be net centric. There is high-end sensor suite and a strong focus on data links for sharing information within the Gripen Tactical unit.
Talking of net centric warfare capabilities, Gripen has Link 16 which is used for battle space control in large NATO-led operations, as well as digital CAS and video link for cooperation with Forward Air Controllers on the ground.
Saab had recognized the importance of a linked flow of secure electronic combat data long back in fact. Saab’s J 35 Draken was equipped with one of the world’s first operational datalink systems. The practice continued with the addition of more powerful datalink capabilities to Draken and Viggen and of course Gripen now.
Link 16 gives wide-area command and control (C2) and ensures effective exchange of surveillance data, EW data, mission tasking, weapons assignments and control data. It takes Gripen's interoperability capabilities to an altogether new level, giving operators a wider choice of networked systems to meet their national and international needs.
Know more about Gripen features here.
As part of their allegiance to the NATO alliance, Hungary will deploy four of its twelve operational Gripen aircraft to patrol the airspace of three Baltic nations namely Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The aircraft will be deployed from Lithuania’s Šiauliai air base and will start operations in September this year. The patrol operations are scheduled for a period of four months.
Previously, Hungary and Italy had been in charge of air control operations in Slovenia since October 2014. The Hungarian missions were being flown out of the Kecskemét air base in Hungary. Starting next year, the Hungarian Air Force Gripen will also play an important role in the joint EU Battle Group. They will provide close air support (CAS) capability in the battle group.
Read the full story here.
Image Courtesy: Istvan "TopiDoc" Toperczer
Brazil has inched closer to the Gripen deal with Saab, as the country’s senate voted through the financing package required for the purchase of 36 Gripen NG aircraft.
As per a CNBC report, the senate has authorized the Brazilian Government to borrow up to 39.88 billion Swedish crowns from Sweden's export credit agency SEK for the planes along with an additional $245.3 million to buy arms for the Gripen fighters.
As per the terms of the contract between the two countries, the deal includes 100% technology transfer. The CNBC report adds that 15 out of 36 new generation Gripen will be produced in Brazil by Saab, in partnership with the Brazilian firm Embraer.
The approval of the financing agreement is the last step in the process of negotiations that started between Sweden and Brazil after the latter’s announcement of the selection of Gripen as the FX2 winner.
Read the full story here.
The Czech Defence Ministry has decided to add air-to-ground capabilities to their Gripen fighters. According to the Defence Ministry Spokesman Petr Medek, the new arms will be installed before 2018.
Medek said that with the addition of ground strike capabilities, the chances of Czech Gripen being deployed for various international operations, including NATO operations will increase.
Gripen has been designed to be a multi role aircraft; to be able to provide air defence and also carry out ground attacks and reconnaissance missions. The Swedish Air Force already uses its Gripen fleet for all these tasks and now the Czech Air Force will follow suit.
The weapons for air-to-ground strikes include laser and GPS guided bombs, training weapons and night vision goggles. Equipment like Saab's Mark 4 radar doubles air-to-air and air-to-ground detection ranges and has improved abilities to detect very low-radar cross-section targets.
A Ceskenoviny.cz news report quoted another Czech Defence Ministry spokesperson saying that the Czech Gripen will undergo technological and software's changes.
“For example, air bombs or laser-induced air bombs will be made compatible with the Czech Gripen fighters now,” he says.
Read the full story here.
Photo Courtesy: Army.cz
Czech Air Force Gripen fighters are in Iceland to provide aerial surveillance to the country.
Czech Gripen fighters reached Iceland on 23 July 2015, accompanied by an Italian Air Force KC-767 for in-flight refueling. Upon arrival, the participating Czech Air Force pilots underwent a certification process in which they had to conduct test flights in order to be qualified to perform air surveillance and interception missions over Iceland.
The Czech Government had approved the deployment of five Gripen fighters (one out of which has been kept as a reserve aircraft) and up to 70 personnel for this mission, two months back. This is the fourth time the Czech Gripen have been deployed to provide aerial surveillance to NATO states. Besides the last year’s Iceland deployment, Czech Gripen have successfully completed similar missions in the Baltic States in 2009 and 2012 as well.
The Czech Gripen pilots will return to the Caslav Air Base after fulfilling their duties till 25 August.
Read the full story here.
This year, South African Air Force Gripen completed the actual launch of an A-Darter missile. The missile successfully reached the target, which was an unmanned aircraft flying at a 600 meters higher altitude, reports Airheadsfly.com.
As a part of this test, the rocket was launched towards a remotely-controlled aircraft in order to test the maneuverability of the missile. The heat-guided weapon is designed to perform while sustaining up to 100Gs, with targets within a 12 miles radius. The A-Darter’s sensor-eye can spot the difference between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares the bogey might launch to fool the missile.
Portal Brazil quoted the project manager for Brazil, Colonel Julius Caesar Cardoso Tavares, saying that the main feature of the latest generation of missiles is their ability to perform high-performance maneuvers.
"The guidance sensor detects the target and the missile also calculates the best route," said the Colonel.
A-Darter does not have small wings that are used for maneuvering. Instead, it can direct the thrust of its rocket engine, performing maneuvers while sustaining up to 100Gs.
The report adds that the A-Darter is now 90 percent ready. South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is the leading company of the project.
Read the full story: Future Brazilian Gripen Missile Successfully Fired In South Africa
GE Aviation will deliver the first flight test F414-400 for a single-engine application for the Gripen E to Saab later this year, reports Aviation Week.
GE vice president and general manager of its Aviation’s military systems, Jean Lydon-Rodgers confirmed the delivery schedule last week, adding that the production of the F414-400 engine will begin in 2017.
We will have 90 engines on order by the end of this summer for Gripen fighters for Sweden and Brazil,” he says. “And we expect that to increase as the Swedish order grows.”
The F414 fighter engine offers 35 percent more thrust and significant improvements in aircraft performance, survivability and payload as compared to its predecessor F404. The engine not only gives Gripen supercruise but also plays an important role in reducing the fighter’s life cycle cost.
The engine boasts of features like Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) that improve its operational characteristics. The F414 fan also provides 16 percent more airflow than the F404 fan with improved bird strike and foreign object damage resistance features.
Read the full story here.
"Before Brazil, Gripen was an aircraft looking for a market. Now it is a market looking for Gripen. And we can see that in many ways — it has really changed with Brazil. It is more global. It has changed the way we communicate," says Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab aeronautics, at a recent Press Tour.
According to a Defense News report, the FX2 programme reached a new level after Saab’s announcement of jointly producing most of Gripen NG parts in Brazil with the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer under a technology transfer agreement.
Mr. Nilsson mentions that Saab’s order backlog is at an all-time high. Starting this year, Saab will also offer the MS20 upgrade to Gripen C/D operators, which includes capabilities like MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile.
"The addition of Meteor air-to-air capability makes Gripen the most formidable counter-air platform in service," says Jerker Ahlqvist, Saab Gripen's vice president for business area aeronautics. The missile will become operational with Swedish Air Force Gripens in 2016.
Last month, Saab came up with MK4, a technologically advanced version of the renowned PS-05/A radar which gives Gripen C/D an improved performance and operating range.
Saab is also developing the naval version of Gripen NG: Sea Gripen.
"Sea Gripen is part of the technology transfer agreement with Brazil," Nilsson said, and a study will be done. "We're in early discussions for Sea Gripen, but we'll have to see where it goes. It will probably be about 2025 before the Brazilians decide what to ...
This year, Czech Republic celebrated 10 years of its Gripen programme. The country will operate Gripen fighters for another 12 years as per a deal extension signed last year and recently, they scheduled to upgrade and enhance their fleet as well.
Till now, the Czech Gripen use Saab’s MS19 Block 3 software standard. However, by 2017 or 2018, the Gripen fighters will be upgraded to the MS20 configuration, reports Flightglobal.
MS 20 upgrade includes integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and Boeing GBU-39 Small-Diameter Bomb, improved radar modes and a new laser designation pod (LDP) among other things.
“The need for the LDP is really strong, and right now there is a negotiation,” 211 Sqn pilot Capt Jiri Cermak said at Saab’s Linköping production facility in Sweden last month. The payload will assist pilots with the visual identification of aircraft at night, he adds.
According to the report, the Swedish Air Force will have its Gripen C/D fleet enhanced with the MS 20 block upgrade later this year. New air to air capability and air to ground capabilities like precision guided bombs against small targets will be introduced as well.
Read the full report here.
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